Sushi With Beef? Meat Industry Makes the Case for “Beefshi”

The Beef Checkoff program and the North American Meat Institute, seeing a growing trend toward sushi, hired a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef to help create beef-centered takes on a meal more closely associated with seafood.

If you’re a fan of sushi, you might be aware that there are many ways that it can be made, though when it comes to meat, it’s generally understood to include seafood—think tuna, eel, or fish roe.

But with sushi becoming a popular grocery store deli standby, the meat industry is hoping to get in on its growing popularity.

Since last year, the Beef Checkoff program, along with the North American Meat Institute, have been making the case for “Beefshi,” a fusion-food concept that combines more traditional sushi ingredients with different kinds of prepared beef, such as pastrami, corned beef, bologna, all-beef hot dogs, and beef jerky.

But with March being National Deli Meat Month, NAMI Vice President of Public Affairs Eric Mittenthal noted that the association was looking to take a new twist on its campaign.

“Americans have always loved beef and, over the past few decades, their love of sushi has catapulted,” Mittenthal said to WTOP this week. “We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate National Deli Meat Month than focusing on the marriage of beef and sushi.”

The industry has done its research and says there might be an opening for sushi with beef; last year, it did a survey of food industry professionals at its Annual Meat Conference, and found that 95 percent of those who tried Beefshi creations liked them, while half of retailers said they would make sense at a supermarket. The campaign, as a result, has targeted its marketing at retailers, complete with a foodservice guide [PDF] to creating the rolls.

As a part of selling the idea, NAMI has been teaming with state-level beef councils to highlight different takes on beef sushi. Included among the ideas released by the campaign over the past two years are The Texan Roll (which includes salsa, cotija cheese, and roast beef), the New York Deli Roll (with corned beef, horseradish, and Swiss cheese), Carolina sushi (with bologna, carrots, celery seeds, and a cabbage leaf instead of nori), the Muffarolletta (with olives, capers, garlic, salami, and celery leaves), and Inside-Out Wisconsin Maki (featuring summer sausage, colby cheese, spicy brown mustard, and dill pickles).

Perhaps this isn’t traditionalist, and perhaps you’re not exactly excited about straying so far from the avocado roll. But the concept nonetheless highlights a willingness to experiment by the beef industry—and possibly convince the food service industry to follow its lead.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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